Apple has bowed to pressure from Beijing cyber regulators. Early this year, Beijing passed laws directed at VPNs not approved by state regulators and just recently, Apple has complied and has removed VPN services from its app store in China.
A VPN in action, takes your internet connection and makes it more secure, helps you stay anonymous and help you get around block and access censored sites. In line with the Beijing laws, VPNs allow users to bypass China’s so-called “Great Firewall” aimed at restricting access to overseas sites. Hence, Approved VPNs must use state network infrastructure so that the government can over rule the privacy and security.
In a statement made by Apple via notifications of its decision, it said, “iOS app will be removed from the China App Store because it includes content that is illegal in China for legal reasons”. News reports reveal that all major VPN apps for iOS have been removed from the China App Store.
Express VPN and Golden frog have expressed disappointment in China’s rulings. Express VPN said in a statement, “We’re disappointed in this development, as it represents the most drastic measure the Chinese Government gas taken to block the use of VPNs to date, and we are troubled to see Apple aiding China’s censorship efforts”.
Golden frog said in their website, “Golden Frog’s core mission is to fight for a free and open internet experience for users around the world, so we will file an appeal with Apple- but I am not hopeful. When it comes to their App store, Apple is the judge , jury and executor and now, it appears the Chinese government is Apple’s overlord”.
Other major providers, including VyprVPN and StarVPN received the notice from Apple. However, despite the removal of VyprVPN app from App store, the service remains accessible to all users in China and is not currently blocked.
Ahead of the Communist Party congress set to take place this month of August, Beijing is working hard to tighten its control over the internet. In retrospect, the state has shut down dozens of China based providers and has been targeting overseas services as well.
This will be the first time Apple has succumbed to pressure with requests to scrub overseas providers from its store, a move that VPN providers say is unnecessarily supportive of China’s heightened censorship autocratic system.
As Golden frog puts it, “we view internet access and unrestricted internet access as a human rights issue”; on the contrary however, we don’t have nearly enough privacy or security as we would like.
Featured Image: South China Morning Post